The federal government is creating an independent advisory body to recommend nominees for appointment to the Senate, promising to choose candidates based on their merit, not their political leanings.
Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef said Thursday, that the changes are part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment "to end partisanship in the Senate and reinvigorate an institution that plays a vital role in our parliamentary democracy."
The new advisory board will consist of five members: one federal chair, two permanent members, and two ad hoc members chosen from the provinces or territories where the Senate has vacancies.
Candidates will be chosen based on their merit, including a "demonstrated record of service to their community, the public, or their chosen field of expertise," Monsef said.
Candidates will also need to have proven personal qualities, including ethics and integrity. And they will need to be willing bring a non-partisan perspective to the Senate.
"The transparent criteria will be applied in a way that respects the importance of gender balance, and reflects Canada's diversity," she added.
"I'm confident that this merit-based process will result in candidates of the highest quality being recommended to serve Canadians in the Senate.
There are currently 22 vacancies in the chamber. Monsef said the aim is to choose the advisory board’s permanent members quickly so that the board can provide the prime minister with a shortlist of five candidates for several of the current vacancies "early in the new year."
Those first five nominees will be to fill vacancies in provinces that are most under-represented at the moment – two in Ontario, two in Manitoba and one in Quebec.
The other 17 spots will be filled by the end of 2016.
As Trudeau moved forward with his plans for Senate reform on Thursday, he also appointed current Senator George Furey Speaker of the Senate, replacing Conservative Leo Housakos.
Liberals announce advisory board to quickly choose new independent senators | CTV News